I'm Surprised There Are No Bible Law "Schools" Named For Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney
When Roger B. Taney died in 1864, age 87, he had been the serving for 28 years as the 5th Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, having replaced John Marshall when he died in a stage coach accident. His legacy, deservedly, is loathsome and wretched, although there is a statue of him in his native Maryland and a bust of him in the Supreme Court building in Washington. He has been lionized by the worst and most unapologetic racist on the current Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia. Taney County, Missouri-- yes, Branson-- is named for him. Fittingly enough, Taney Co. (97% white) is a blood red hellhole. Every single elected official is a Republican and it's part of Missouri's far right 8th CD. McCain won the county in 2008 with 68% and last year Romney took it with 73%. A middle school in Temple Hills, Maryland was named for him but when the county the population changed to majority black, the school was renamed after Justice Thurgood Marshall.
So why is Taney the most reviled Chief Justice ever (other than in right-wing racist circles where he is beloved)? A slaveowner, Taney was a despised figure throughout his miserable life. After servicing as Andrew Jackson's Attorney General (1831-33), Jackson appointed him Treasury Secretary. But his racist tenure as Attorney General-- supporting South Carolina's law prohibiting free Blacks from entering the state and, in another case, insisting that Blacks could ever not be citizens-- made him unconfirmable for any other positions. After Jackson's recess appointment to Treasury, Taney because the first nominee to the Cabinet to ever be rejected.
Two years later he was back. Jackson nominated him to an open seat on the Supreme Court. The Senate tried to cut the number of seats on the Court rather than confirm him. In the end, they just refused to ever confirm the nomination. Eventually a gaggle of southern racists were elected to the Senate and when John Marshall died, Jackson nominated Taney to replace him as Chief Justice. Some of the most renowned political figures of the day-- Daniel Webster, Henry Clay and Jackson's ow former vice president, John C. Calhoun-- lead the opposition in the most bitter Court confirmation ever. The newly elected Senate with just too filled with racists to keep him off and he was confirmed the following year, the first Roman Catholic to serve on the Supreme Court.
Pure evil in American history
Even before the infamous Dred Scott ruling which Ezra Klein discussed on MSNBC Friday (in the video up top), Taney was pushing his vicious racist agenda on the court. In Prigg v Pennsylvania (1842), he voted to allow Southern slave holders to come up North and kidnap freed blacks and their children. He also voted to prevent northern states from passing laws to prevent this kind of kidnapping. But the 1847 Dred Scott Decision, written by Taney, guaranteed him his place in history-- and hell. It was certainly what conservatives now call unfounded judicial activism and there were unsuccessful attempts to impeach Taney because of it. His position is that Congress had no authority to prevent the spread of slavery and that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional (which is why he is honored by the racist dogs of Taney County today). In the reviled opinion he wrote as Chief Justice he insists that Blacks were "an inferior order" and not protected by the Constitution at all.
It is difficult at this day to realize the state of public opinion in regard to that unfortunate race which prevailed in the civilized and enlightened portions of the world at the time of the Declaration of Independence, and when the Constitution of the United States was framed and adopted; but the public history of every European nation displays it in a manner too plain to be mistaken. They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far unfit that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.He routinely referred to abolitionist sentiment as "Northern aggression," something that helped rally southerners towards secession. Today Scalia and several other right-wing activists on the Supreme Court falsely claim racism is dead in the South and that there is no longer any need for the protections for Blacks from disenfranchisement in that unfortunate part of the country. Their arguments fly in the face of reality and have no bearing in facts on the ground. These are the facts on the ground: